These are the coveted days of summer. The lazy, lengthy, sun-drenched days of summer. The days when a teacher’s soul finds great respite and recovery from 180 days packed to the brim with school. And as I start my fourth week of summer vacation, I find myself loving and loathing the days of summer break.
On the one hand, I need the mental break and rest more than I can say after pushing myself hard all year in the classroom. I need the time to get things done that there simply isn’t time for during the year. I need the time to get extra sleep, do extra writing, and spend extra time with people. I love the sunshine, the time at the lake, and all the books I get to read.
But with the lack of constant mental stimulation – the lack of the challenge in teaching my students – comes a sudden open space in my mind. And there’s where the loathing comes in. My days, while very structured, are quiet. And if I don’t plan my social time well enough, the quiet is about enough to drive me mad. There are times when I sit and soak it in – both the physical quiet and the mental quiet of a brain not needing to meet constant deadlines.
And there are times when the thoughts that come in that quiet can drive me to tears. Last week and the week before, there were several days where I felt an inexplicable ache. A giant hole. A place where tears could be triggered by a mere song. And I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
Then, as I was going through some old writing on my computer, I came across this short piece that I wrote two years ago when I still lived in my apartment. And it was the perfect reminder that I needed – that sometimes tears happen, and it’s okay – even in the midst of what is supposed to be an “ideal” time of year or even “ideal” time of life. We still live in a broken world, and Christ is still there to catch our unexplained tears.
The other day, I looked out my kitchen window and was in awe of the uncommon sight taking place – sheets of rain coming down but with brilliant sunshine illuminating the clouds overhead.
It’s such an ironic sight to see two opposites paired together like that – the stereotypical “sadness” of rain mingled with the “happiness” of bright sunlight. We usually tend to think that sunshine comes after the rain – that the weather indicates the shifting moods of nature, and that they could never go together.
Yet what I saw in that juxtaposition of sunlight and rain was actually a reflection of how I sometimes feel – that I can be filled with joy and gratitude over all I’ve been given in life and yet still feel like my soul is weeping for things that are missing. It doesn’t mean that I’m a depressed person or that I’m dissatisfied with life (although yes, I do get dissatisfied at times).
What it means is that sometimes weeping and sunshine walk hand in hand. You have the blessing and you have the trial. You have the rose and the thorn. You have the beauty and the pain. You have the forever sealed in Christ and the current struggles of the world around us.
Sometimes I feel guilty and think that there should only ever be the happy sunshine in my life. People expect me to be optimistic and encouraging all the time, so how dare I let them down? But the reality is that we are all human, and there are times to accept the fact that we will weep. We will mourn the broken, the unfulfilled longing, the pain of the struggle, and the hurt of disillusionment.
And we will bring our weeping to the Father, the source of all light. He will absorb our tears and cause the sunshine to radiate through even the hardest of rains. He will tenderly catch those tears in a bottle and treasure our mourning for a lost and broken world.
All of these tears are testimony that we need a Savior to be our forever Healer. And someday when we get to heaven, one of the most beautiful testimonies of fulfillment will be the shattering of our tear jars – no more weeping – only eternal delight in the radiance of the Son. What a promise.
And what a reminder through the kitchen window. He knows the pain of our pilgrim pathway. And He’s sustaining us every step along the weary road.